Veteran Stories:
Hub Gray

Army

  • 6 Platoon, C Company, 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. Hub Gray was second-in-command (2IC) of 2nd Battalion's support company.

    John McCall
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"Well, I was a lieutenant and I had a command. Normally we would have 42 people in a platoon. While I was in Korea we were not getting the reinforcements we needed, we averaged about 25 per platoon. And so you look after everybody."

Transcript

Kap’yong was a pivotal battle for two reasons.  First of all, had the Chinese succeeded they would have cut the American Eighth Army in half, which is a disaster. Secondly, they would have retaken Seoul for the third time. And of course we benefited far more than the Australians* at that time. The Australians only had the support of the [16th] New Zealand Field Regiment. The Americans gave us tremendous artillery support. They sent in thirty-six 105s,** they sent in 17 five-inch shell units. They sent in four units having eight-inch shells.  We had 81 pieces of artillery supporting some 700 men. It's almost enough for a division.

Well, the first thing we noticed when we landed at the dock [in Korea] was the terrible smell because all their fields were cultivated with human waste. We got in a troop train and the first thing that happened, an American soldier being court martialed for desertion. We stopped at Taegu, and he bought a bottle of hooch, and within 20 or 25 minutes he was dead. The hooch was composed of such beautiful things as brake fluid, melted boot polish, human urine or cattle urine, and it paralyzed his nervous system and he suffocated to death in front of us.

We thought, how terrible, how cowardly! But we had the same instances in the PPCLI when we came out of the line. We would have one, two, or three people put their foot up on a dyke, shoot off their toe so they wouldn't have to go back and fight.

Well, I was a lieutenant and I had a command. Normally we would have 42 people in a platoon. While I was in Korea we were not getting the reinforcements we needed, we averaged about 25 per platoon. And so you look after everybody.

I had a man who every time we went on patrol he had a failure with his rifle, his boot lace was broken, or something. Finally I said to him one day, "You're going in here and you're going ahead. I've got my 9 mm [pistol]. If you turn on me I'll shoot you." He led the patrol but two weeks later was evacuated. He just fell to pieces. The interesting thing about that man was that in peacetime he was a bully. He was very strong, huge, but in war he was a coward.

*3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment at Kap’yong

**U.S. 105mm artillery field guns

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